Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Element 2: Respect for Others

My Mouth Is A Volcano 

Written by Julia Cook 
Illustrated by Carrie Hartman 

My Mouth Is A Volcano, by Julia Cook, is there perfect story to hi light the importance of respect for others. Louis, a young and eager boy, has a problem. His problem is very simple; Louis has so much to say that he cannot control when he says it! We follow Louis through a plethora of incidents where he 'erupts' like a volcano and the words just 'explode' out of him. Moreover, Louis fails to raise his hand in class, suddenly interrupts at story hour, blurts out his thoughts during dinner with his parents, and much more. Louis receives a taste of his own medicine when he is given the opportunity to share some things about himself to his classmates. To put it lightly, Louis does not like to be at the receiving end of these not-the-right-time outbursts. Subsequently, we learn, with Louis, the importance of waiting for the right time to speak. Hence, respecting what others have to say around us by managing the many thoughts and feelings we all have.  

My Mouth Is A Volcano, certainly represents Element 2 of the Six Elements of Social Justice. In other words, we can introduce a very simple concept using this witty and very realistic text. In no time, your students will be able to easily relate to Louis. First and foremost, it is great when our students can connect to the characters we are reading about. Moreover, they can move forward with the concepts presented to them. Therefore, they can be more aware of others feelings, opinions, and ideas. In doing so, such students will emanate this trait in their everyday lives. This is great starting point for introducing the concept of respect. Moving forward, this concept can be implemented into various other content areas in direct relation to historical events, word problems, and much more. 

This text can be used at the preschool level, but I also feel it would be beneficial all the way up until about the second grade level. To revisit my statement from the previous paragraph, My Mouth Is A Volcano would be the perfect introduction to the concept of respect for others. Subsequently, this concept can be revisited when doing a lesson on Thanksgiving with a first grade class, for example. When recounting the events of the Indians and Pilgrims sharing food and coming together for a beautiful feast, the idea of respect can once again be implemented. Thanksgiving is often presented to children through this clouded version, but that is a whole other topic. For the purpose of this example, I see it fitting well. Finally, one more content area respect can be incorporated into is writing. I could implement specific writing tasks that get my students thinking about times they have disrespected someone, been disrespected, etc. In doing so, I intend for them to use their background knowledge; like what they learned through Louis's actions in My Mouth Is A Volcano, as well as draw from personal experience

The following are two great resources for teachers to use along with this story. They can enhance a read aloud or take this concept further, into other content areas. 

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